The epidemic peak in China and the return to normality “exceeded our forecasts,” said Vice Premier Liu He, a month after the sudden abandonment of the zero-covid policy.
“The time required to reach the epidemic peak and return to normality was relatively fast. In a way, it exceeded our forecasts,” said the Chinese leader at the Davos Forum, which is being held this week in the Swiss Alps.
“The transition as a whole was smooth and smooth,” He also said, responding to numerous criticisms of Beijing’s lack of transparency and videos showing Chinese hospitals saturated by the sudden influx of coronavirus patients, once the strong restrictions in force were lifted.
“Recently, production and life globally returned to normal. The food industry, tourism and other consumer sectors began to recover their normal course,” argued Liu He.
China, criticized for its lack of transparency about the pandemic, announced on Saturday some 60,000 deaths from covid-19 since the lifting of its health restrictions a month ago, but the World Health Organization (WHO) asked for more detailed data.
After three years of enforcing some of the most draconian restrictions in the world, China abruptly lifted most of its coronavirus health provisions in early December, following protests against the severity of these measures in several cities across the country.
Since then, the number of patients has increased considerably. Hospitals have been overwhelmed by elderly patients and crematoriums have received large numbers of corpses.
Despite this, the authorities had so far only reported a small number of deaths.
In December, Beijing revised its methodology for counting deaths from covid and now only people who died directly from coronavirus-related respiratory failure are included in the statistics.
This controversial change in methodology means that a large number of deaths are no longer recorded as due to covid.
The WHO criticized this new definition and considered it “too narrow”.
Chinese Vice Premier He acknowledged yesterday from Switzerland that “the main difficulty at this time has to do with the elderly”, although “the availability of hospitals, beds, doctors, nurses and treatments is fully guaranteed”.
“We warmly invite our international friends to come to China,” the leader said before an audience of politicians and businessmen, emphasizing that the new health policy no longer requires a mandatory quarantine, but only a negative test carried out a maximum of 48 hours before.
Of the 66,000 deaths reported between Dec. 8, 2022 and Jan. 12, 2023, Jiao Yahui, head of the medical administration office of the National Health Commission, said 5,503 were directly caused by respiratory failure related to the covid-19, while the remainder were due to underlying illnesses associated with the coronavirus.
This figure, which does not take into account deaths outside the hospital system, is probably an underestimate./AFP Summary